phlegm, semen, snot, and pubes

The fall, for sure.  Hot dog vendors.  The energy when you walk out your door.  Yellow taxicabs.  The smell of fireplaces on tree-lined streets.  Little girls seeing Radio City Music Hall for the first time.  Tourists in carriages through the crapass park.  The idea of museums.  Sarabeth’s.  The fashion.  The "Pop-art" sandwich from Popover Cafe on the upper west.  The portobello sandwich at Zoe in SoHo.  And I certainly miss my friends and the spontaneity of the city.  On my last night in New York, some of my closest girlfriends took me out for dinner at Bivio, complete with wishes for the "bride to be" and a strawberry shortcake.  Alexandra would be running late at a work function, so we were instructed to order without her.  Signals were crossed, and our waiter assumed we’d wait for our entire party before placing our full dinner menu.  So tall glasses of Prosecco were had over shared appetizers.  Then glasses went dry as we surveyed the restaurant for our waiter. 

I am always nice to wait staff, even when they’re wrong and 100% to blame.  I realize they’ve had a long day, or maybe their feet hurt.  It has very little to do with worrying if they’ll spit in my food (or worse, add phlegm, semen, snot, or pubes) or if they’ll think I’m rude and everything to do with patience.  I’m always patient.  I don’t know why.  It is not that I don’t value myself enough, or question whether I’m paying enough to get good service… I just think eventually it all comes out good, and why make more mess?  I usually grin and bear it.  When service is good, I always make an effort to tell a manager.  But when it’s bad, I tend to keep my trap shut. 

Back to Bivio…the waiter abandoned us.  It’s one thing if there were a miscommunication about waiting for our entire party to arrive before he recited the specials, but he should have checked in to ensure we were at least being hydrated.  When we did flag him down, he tried to make nice, without apologizing.  One of my friends would hear none of it and chastised him as if he’d just made in his emergency pants, on purpose.  He said he’d love it if someone else would wait on our table.  Make everyone happy.  "No, just take our orders, please, and let’s be done with it."  Oh my. 
"He’s trying to make it better," I told my ordinarily sweet friend.
"I just can’t deal today," she said.  And I sort of understood.  We all have different ways of handling situations. 

Two minutes later a bus boy sets down three complimentary plates of appetizers.  Eyebrows are raised.  "That’s the way to do things, girls."  "I’m so amazed."  It was our waiter’s way of apologizing while he worked on our entrees. I thought, for just a moment, "Wow, I guess sometimes it pays to be the squeaky wheel.  I mean, maybe there’s something to be said for being aggressive or assertive.  But, I dunno…"

"I used to do this all the time when I was a waitress," another friend chimed in as she grabbed some asparagus spears.  "You always get better tips, no matter what has happened." 

"Call me cynical," I said as my fork hovered above a ball of cheese, "but I think that bus boy just dropped off their food by mistake," I said tipping my head toward the table of men beside us.  We laughed for a moment, then continued to pass around the new plates of food. One of us then sheepishly asked the men beside us, "Did you happen to order the calamari, asparagus, and mozzarella sampling?"

Ahem.  I was right.  The waiter had certainly not sent over the appetizers in good faith, but we ate them as if he had.  And we were not charged for his mistake(s), except when the obligatory 20% gratuity was added due to the size of our party. 

Now, back to the bits I miss about New York… moments like these with my girlfriends… and of course, when Alexandra showed up with, "Oh, the drams I have to share, my pritts!  I just shared a cab with a stranger, some sex lady who needed a cab as desperately as I did.  She doused me with pheromones and told me to rub some on my clit so it’ll taste like a creamsicle."  That is the shite I miss.  The randomness with strangers.  How we spoke with the strangers beside us, how we meet people in cabs, on sidewalks, everywhere, with mangled stories of strange.  I know Austin’s motto is "Keep Austin Weird," so I’m on the watch for it now that most of the vomiting has subsided.*

*P.S. This Wednesday we go for our "first screen test" where the babies get their close-ups and their necks are measured, and my finger is pricked.  I can’t wait!



  1. i finally ate at sarabeth's this sunday – so worth the wait! it's funny because the things you miss the most about new york…i often find myself missing of austin. the comfort of home.

  2. Quick question, do you still plan to stay in Austin for just six months or are you going to stay longer? Or perhaps, now that you're having babies you will be moving back to NY sooner than you had originally planned?

  3. I think I would choke myself on my own fist if I had to listen to your friend Alexandra eviscerate the English language in person as opposed to on the printed page/computer screen.

    Apropos of that, enjoying the book, but I don't understand why people are rushing to finish it like it's a murder mystery or something. We all know whodunit. I'm reading a chapter every other day or so (I'm currently also reading a few other leisure and work related books) and loving it. I'm hoping it lasts me into the fall.

  4. I just spent part of the long weekend (in Canada) with some friends who had moved out of town. There's something so wonderful and bittersweet about those reunions. I think you really capture that in your writing about NY since moving to Austin.

    I also think I need a mozzarella sampling stat!

  5. I'm with you. Be nice to servers. Generally speaking, they'll be nice in return. Mistakes happen. Try to let them make up for it before chewing their heads off.

  6. I sit here, with all of my medical troubles and wonder if there is something I should be doing differently. Silly, I know, but if I die, I know I have lived life to its fullest, sometimes vicariously, through you, Stephanie. Thank you. Damn the kidnies, to hell. Thank you though, for prompting me to write my own thoughts, in the form of a blog. I appreciate it. The very best to you and yours.

  7. Miss Stephanie, if I were to come to Austin, could I impose and hopefully meet you and the Suitor for virgin (prego) drinks and dinner? I would be oh so honored and thrilled!!! Please let me know? I just cannot wait for a hopeful book signing!


  8. I live in San Francisco, which is certainly not the land of normal…but I'm SO looking forward to the New York breed of randomness when I move there in October. Good luck with the baby picture-taking!

  9. I've only been here since December and since I'm moving back to Arkansas for a few months to help out my sick grandmother and I'm going to miss those things to. Random tv interviews while I'm reading in Union Square, conversations with people who sit across from me in cafes, everything. But being back with family and friends will be nice, even if it is only a few months.

    Yay for close-ups of babies and measurements. I can't remember, are you two going to find out the sexes or let it be a suprise?

  10. Though I cannot completely remove from myself the love I have for Austin as I say this (though you should know too that I have spent a good part of my life in NY as well–but outside the city, which has to do with the point I am about to make), you must realize that you are not drawing a comparison between New York CITY and DOWNTOWN Austin but rather that of the alive and bustling Manhattan that you knew so well with the rather quiet and isolated part of Austin where you have settled. This is not to say that New York, as an infinitely larger, older, cultured, diverse, accessible, and revered city, is, in essence, any more or less wonderful than your new surrounding; however, it's easy to feel very different–looking out at the trees, the hills, the 360 Bridge, and the river surrounding your apartment–from how you would were you right in the middle of things, where a lot of the "Keep Austin Weird" energy, the greater spontaneity, the attention-garnering music scene, and much of the magic of the city thrives–similarly, I cannot justly reconcile my life in the heart of Austin, a mid-sized city, with life just miles outside of NYC, arguably one of the greatest cities around. Granted, you have said that one of the very reasons you moved at all was so that you could experience something other than Manhattan–and, really, who am I to intrude upon something as personal as the things you miss–but just know that you are comparing apples and oranges here. (Or at least oranges and tangerines.)

    I'm looking forward to hearing still more about your new life in this new place, among other things. Maybe I'll see you on one of my frequent visits to the city that holds my heart, when I am no longer near the city that holds yours.

  11. "She doused me with pheromones and told me to rub some on my clit so it'll taste like a creamsicle."

    That can't be true…can it?

  12. Unlike you, I am deathly afraid of phlegm, semen, and pubic hair. I'm always nice to waitstaff (even in a drive through window) and leave a generous tip.

  13. Glad you're less sick and the New York trip ended with girlfriends! We're doing our annual sojourn through weird Austin–last year in a red wagon, this year on scooters–with my two daughters. I like to take them on tours through town to make sure they grow up appreciating the small things in town–a water sculpture by Frost Bank, a funky zebra-painted wall on SoCo, Stevie Ray Vaughan immortalized in the park. And the heat! Can't forget the heat!

    Have fun with the twins' big screen debut!

  14. As a server I thank you for your niceness. It is true, we too make mistakes, forget things and can generally just fuck up but we try our best, usually. It is a hard job dealing that closely with all types of people and having to know how to act with them all, we definately don't get enough credit!
    Good luck at your ultrasound…can't wait to see the first pics of the twins!
    love kat

  15. The one thing I look for when I was single and dating various women, was if they were nice to the wait staff. If they were demanding and rude, I would totally pick up on their character (or lack thereof) and assume that this person isn’t for me. It’s almost like the saying, “If they don’t respect their mother, they’ll never respect you…” So in my opinion, it applies here as well.

    It sounds like you had such a beautiful time back in New York. There’s nothing like that raw energy you get when you finally step into Manhattan again. The randomness—you couldn’t have picked a better word for this… Meeting strangers and their ‘randomness’ is the one unique part about New York that gives it it’s flavor.

    By the way, what terrific reviews you got!

  16. FWIW, I don't think that most people screw up on purpose, in any profession. Crap just happens. He could've gotten stiffed by his last table, or have issues at home, or just finished 4 months without a day off. That's not to say we have to excuse all bad service, but I think we all have to cut some slack when things don't quite measure up.

  17. bought your book and i can't put it down! it's amazing and i can totally relate to the small penis experience early on in the book. it's such a shame. :)

  18. ohhh but what about cowboy cookies from olives? I miss them dearly. I craved them so badly last weekend that I looked up the recipe and cooked a batch of 25 for myself. they were good, but definitely not the same.

  19. I have that fear of waiters too! It’s becomes strangely acute when I’m in a foreign country or on vacation. There’s this odd language barrier that we always have to overcome, and we have to ask lots of questions about the food and the menu. Sometimes if I’m scared that I’m gonna piss them off I just order without asking. But also if they know that I’m just passing through and probably never be in their restaurant ever again, I fear that it gives them licence to do crazy crap to my food without an iota of remorse…

  20. as someone who's moved from a small, beautiful, hip town (liberal, accepting, thriving arts and food scenes), to a massive international city (london) – I spent quite a while comparing one to the other … did the whole "things I miss" thing….so i totally relate to you – those first months are real hard, and it's nigh on impossible not to compare what you once had to what you've got now – but here's the sunny side – if you give it a bit of time (it took me at least a year to get over myself and learn to love london – and now, I couldn't be a more faithful girlfriend) I think you will grow to love Austin, and more importantly, realise that everything that rules about New York, is not possible in Austin – and thats what makes New York unique and fabulous – but conversely, everything that is great about Austin, would not be possible in NY – and that's what makes Austin the individual cool town it is.
    I didn't explain that very well, but if you keep an open mind, and take joy in the new experiences you're having, then I think eventaully you will be blessed with 2 hometowns, and that is a real gift.

  21. I love your style. Did you get started just by writing blogs? or did the blogs come after the book?

  22. I was reading your book in a sandwich shop during lunch today and I actually burst into tears. Alone. In public. I have never done this before. I have laughed beverage through my nose alone in public while reading more times than I can count on both hands, but never this. Just wanted to let you know. "We all die alone." So true. And it's something so many of us try to block out by jamming our fingers in our ears and squeezing our eyes shut. But no matter how loud we say "La La La La" and how hard we shake our heads to avoid hearing it and letting it be real, it's true. And it made me cry. In public. Thank you for it.

  23. Yay! I just got your book in the mail yesterday… I'm already sucked in, even though I know how it ends….

  24. Yeah for you girl!! And Austin is already wierd and they have opened up a new Outle store in Roundrock somewhere near you. Can't wait to see the close up and Congrats on the review in People.

  25. Wow, you're pregnant with twins…so awesome, especially after all you've been through!!

    I wrote you a while back about my husband and I adopting a baby boy. Being a mommy is the most awesome feeling in the world! We named him Austin because we moved here April 2005 and would not have him if we had stayed in VA. We brought him home at just 9 days old and now he's almost 6 months…it's so true…the time flies by!

    I know you will make a wonderful mom. Best wishes to you and your babies! Can't wait to see pics and hear more about your dr. visits.

    Also, congratulations on the success of your book!

  26. I find that generally, you get better service if you're nice from the get-go. I'd never be rude to wait staff – I used to work as a hostess.

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